Month: August 2019

BCM215 Critical Self-Reflection of Comments

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PITCH ONE: The Atmosphere of Addiction

Ben’s pitch is about examining the physical atmosphere provided by pubs, clubs and casinos in their gaming lounges to encourage poker machine use.

I felt this blog was the easiest of the three to engage with, as I had more to offer on this topic than the other two blogs. My comment was quite long so I will try to summarise it as briefly as possible. I started with suggesting some spelling and grammar issues which were prevalent throughout the post, before moving into suggesting he look at the psychology behind poker machines. I provided links to some sources – news articles and thinkpieces – on this topic, including one on how the psychology of poker machines can be applied to app design. In terms of suggested directions, I provided some background information on the types of companies (specifically Woolworths and AFL clubs) that own poker machines and make a significant amount of money from the pokies, as a potential point of interest for the digital artefact.

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PITCH TWO: There Was A Game Here

Emily’s pitch describes the impact that Silent Hill had on the gaming industry, and will be a series of video essays describing what made Silent Hill so great, and how they engaged with it personally.

This one was difficult for me to comment on, as someone who actively dislikes horror games. It is unfortunate that I was assigned something on a topic I dislike, but it forced me out of my comfort zone to try and explore it. I hope that the point of view that I provided could be at least of some interest or help, however I fear that it won’t be, as Emily is someone with a deep knowledge and understanding of the horror genre, I am sure that I – as someone from the outside who dislikes horror – could not provide any new information. My main suggestion was that I wish the contextual post was longer – as someone who doesn’t know the horror genre, and only really knowing Silent Hill by name, I felt like I could have walked away from the post with more of an understanding about what Silent Hill is, what the social and historical context of the games are, when they were made, or even just something as simple as what year they were released and how many games the series of made up of. 

In terms of further research, I struggled with this post. I have next to no knowledge of the genre, so any research I could offer would be the equivalent of an anti-vaxxer offering a news article to a scientist. It would be virtually worthless. However with that in mind I was underwhelmed with the background research presented to me in the pitch – I know they have the knowledge, but there were only a few links and no referencing in the post. 

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PITCH THREE: Gaming in Education

Anthea’s pitch aims to analyse the role of educational games in the classroom, specifically Minecraft.

This pitch was also somewhat difficult to comment on – however not as bad as Emily’s – but for a different reason. It is not that I was disinterested or disengaged from the subject matter, but simply that Anthea seems to have everything down pat. She draws on her own personal experience to help the reader understand why she has picked this topic as her DA. She gives us her medium and a general timeline, as well as plenty of background research, including specific academic sources.

In my comment to her I suggested she talk a bit faster in the video (it came across very slow), and that that would also cut down the 10 seconds extra the video was.

I suggested getting in contact with a friend of mine from Liverpool council who could help with the Minecraft area, and also suggested trying reddit to post her research and blogs on.

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What did you contribute and how did you engage with the post? What research did you offer?
For Ben, I provided links to a range of news articles with more information on the psychology of addiction, as well as offering up a different way of approaching the DA – by looking at the sorts of people and companies that benefit from addiction. These articles were from LifeHacker, Sydney Morning Herald, The Conversation, The Guardian and Fast Company. The majority of the research I offered is on the psychology of addiction and poker machines in particular.

For Emily, I wasn’t really able to engage and contribute as much as I would have liked. Firstly, my lack of knowledge about the horror genre made it difficult for me to connect with the post. I also found the pitch to be a little bit vague, apart from finding out that they are doing a series of video essays, I wasn’t really given a sense of what the video essays will entail, so it was hard for me to suggest any research as I do not know what are they want to focus on.

For Anthea, I didn’t really offer any research, but I did suggest she get in contact with someone I know who did a project recently that may be of interest.

 

What directions did you suggest?
For Ben, I suggested he consider looking at the corporate interests behind poker machines – why there are so many in Australia (and in NSW in particular) and who has a share in the money they are pulling in.

For Emily I suggested looking at the current link between horror fans and true crime fans. True crime recently has become an incredibly lucrative genre, and that link between true crime and horror might be something of interest.

For Anthea, I suggested she try to post her DA on reddit.

 

How useful was your suggestion and how might you be more engaging and provide better feedback in round two of comments?
For Ben, I believe that the articles I sourced from Fast Company about applying poker machine psychology to app design could be of use to his DA, as well as the articles on the psychology of addiction, however I am unsure on how useful my suggestion about corporate ownership of poker machines will be. 

For Emily, in all honesty I don’t believe that my suggestions were very useful. I hope that my comment about putting more background information into the blog post and providing more of a contextual framework would be helpful, but I could not think of any research suggestions that they wouldn’t already have covered. It was also hard to suggest research as I was a bit unclear on the direction the vlogs will take.

For Anthea I am also unsure how great my suggestions will be, but hopefully providing a link to my friend will be of some use.

Final Reflection
Overall, I believe that I will be able to offer more direction and useful feedback in round two of comments because the DA’s I will be assigned will be further along in their progression. This will give me a better idea of where they are going with their DA, rather than me trying to give advice on a project that is still in its ideation phase and could really take any direction from there.

I also need to work on how to approach suggesting research. I feel uncomfortable suggesting research to people who have obviously got a lot of background knowledge on a subject, because it feels like I am likely to be passing on information that they already know. In my mind, if I say to someone “You should look at this article” when the article is on a subject they know back to front, it could come off as offensive, like I am suggesting their background knowledge or current research is sub-par. Also, without knowing the exact direction that their DA’s will take, it is hard for me to find and suggest specific research, as I don’t know what direction their DA might go in. This is reflected in my previous paragraph, where I stated that round two comments should be easier as everyone’s DA’s will be well underway. For me, it is much easier to comment on something that exists tangibly rather than commenting on something that is still being ideated. 

What did you learn?
I learned that I find it difficult to suggest research to people without the fear of offending them. I also learned how difficult it is to engage with a topic in a meaningful way when I have no background knowledge or prior interest in the topic. I also find it difficult to give criticism to someone on something that they have put time and effort into, especially when it is based on a topic they are passionate about.

What did you get out of the experience?
As this is my 5th year of studying BCM part-time, I have done many subjects that included critical feedback on blog posts. I learned a lot from them the first few times, but by now I am unsure if I got anything new from this specific commenting experience.

How do you plan to improve?
I would like to engage more with the post topics. As stated above, I feel that I can do that better when the projects are further along, and there is more to actually look at/read/listen to, and I will be able to get a better understanding of the topic and the approach. I will also look at ways of being better at giving constructive criticism as it is hard for me personally to criticise someone on a passion project, for fear of discouraging them.

 

Gametography: More Than A Screenshot

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For as long as I can remember, photography has been important to me. And this can all be linked back to one game – Pokemon Snap. Hours upon hours of my childhood were spent photographing Pokemon to the point where every level just became muscle memory to me. From there, my passion turned into what I am now: a freelance live music photographer, and a passionate amateur gametographer.

In-game photography is more than pretty screenshots, it’s about breaking rules and making memories

– Spencer, 2016

Gametography (virtual photography, in-game photography) is a new media art form involved with taking screenshots (or photos) in a game – particularly open world games, with the support of an in game photo mode. Photo mode is now starting to become standard in AAA games, and for good reason: it allows players to create their own art within a virtual world, and creating their own paratexts. For my digital artefact I plan to bring gametography to a wider audience with a photo essay investigating the history of in-game photography, how it fits into the art community, and speculating on it’s future. A large issue I would also like to discuss in my photo essay is the ownership of the photo. It is, after all, a screenshot taken in someone else’s world. Should the rights lie with the gamer who took the photo? Or the developer who created the world? Who should be attributed with making this piece of art?

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Mad Max – Photo by Britt Andrews

The majority of my research will be primary qualitative research from talking to both real and virtual photographers to get their opinions on virtual photography as an art form. There are many detractors of gametography, and while I do not always agree with their point of view, their opinions will be represented in my photo essay as well. I will also attempt to contact game developers who have made games with photo modes to discuss both why they decided to add a photo mode, and their views on the aforementioned photo rights issue. 

“Just as there is an art to taking a good offline photography, there is an art to taking a good screen capture.”

– Book, 2003

In terms of secondary research, academic sources on gametography are rather sparse, as it is still a relatively new artform. This is not to say that they don’t exist, just that they aren’t as prolific as other topics. However, there are a wealth of resources regarding photography and its place in the art world. Gaining this baseline of information about what photography really is will aid me in discovering how gametography fits into that as well.

With that in mind, I have found some helpful journal articles surrounding gametography which I hope will give me a deeper understanding of gametography as an artform, teach me about its history, and give me the necessary tools to be able to speculate on the future. 
Separate from academic resources however, there are a wealth of articles, essays, think-pieces and interviews (and criticisms) on a variety of news and pop culture websites, from Kotaku to even HuffPost, The Washington Post and The Guardian. This is on top of the subreddits, discords and even art gallery talks and exhibitions (including an Australian exhibition – more on that later).

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Horizon Zero Dawn – Photo by Britt Andrews. Exhibited PAX Australia 2017.

My preliminary research has given me a lot to think about regarding gametography as an artform and has left me optimistic about the trajectory of my DA. The 2007 journal article “Point and Shoot: Remediating Photography in Gamespace” has been particularly interesting to me, with the author Poremba arguing “players are taking real photos, just in virtual spaces… players gain creative control over composition and subject and can thus make creative decisions in the work. This is significant because it allows players to create original works even within existing works” Poremba also notes that photography itself is “an inherently gamelike practice” that promotes collecting and exploring, much like many open world games do. 

I believe that a post-structuralist standpoint is the most appropriate approach for this photo essay and analysis, as art is inherently subjective, and different people will assign meaning to art and photography in different ways. There is also a political economy element to be examined, as gametography challenges the notion common among photographers that your camera gear – and the amount of money you have spent on it – is somehow linked to your credibility as an artist. Gametographers need only a console and a game, not the latest Canon gear.

My digitial artefact will take the form of a photo essay embedded in a blog, and will most likely be crossposted to Twitter and Instagram. A while ago I made accounts dedicated to my in-game photography on Instagram and Twitter under the handle ABXY Photo Mode, but I have up to this point failed to utilise them to their full potential – something I am looking to change with this project. Rather than providing the photos week by week, I will use the time available to me to interview artists, gather my information and research, and present it as one essay at the end of the semester.

Earlier in this post I mentioned a photo mode exhibition held in Australia. Throughout my time as a gametographer, I have had the privilege of being a part of PAX Australia’s first in-game photography exhibition in 2017 – showcasing my photo from Horizon Zero Dawn alongside some other amazing gametographers, including work from the hosts of the Gametographers stream.

My digital artefact aims to bring virtual photography to a wider audience. For some people, this will be an introduction, but for more seasoned gametographers I hope to encourage them to engage with and think about virtual photography in new and different ways.

“The resulting image is presented not as an inferior representation of our reality, but as a realistic representation of an alternate reality”

– Poremba, 2007

 

Links and References:

Business Insider – “I played ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’ as a cowboy photographer — here are my favourite photos showing the insane level of detail in the game”

Discord – The Gametographers

F-Stoppers – “It May Be Art, But In-Game Images Aren’t ‘Photography'”

Facebook – Britt Andrews Photography

Fandom Australia – “‘Horizon Zero Dawn’ Has Its Own Art Exhibition at PAX Aus”

Formed From Light – “The Art of Photography in Video Game Worlds”

GamesRadar – “A Professional Photographer On What It Takes To Capture Video Game Snaps For A Living, And His Expert Tips For Using Photo Mode”

The Guardian – “Point and shoot: what’s next for photography in video games?”

Huffpost – “The Art Of In-Game Photography”

Instagram – ABXYPhotoMode

Kotaku – “The Man Behind The World’s Best Screenshots”

Medium – “The Rise of Gametography”

The Photographers’ Gallery – “The Art of In-Game Photography”

Polygon – “Every Game Should Have A Photo Mode”

Polygon – “Why Pokemon Snap Feelings Like A Modern Game”

Poremba, Cindy – “Point and Shoot: Remediating Photography in Gamespace”

Reddit – /r/gamingphotography

The Washington Post – “Video games are now so beautiful players are spending hours framing stunning works of Internet art”

Twitter – ABXYPhotoMode

Twitter – The Gametographers

Wikipedia – “Pokemon Snap”